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Bidyut Bhusan Jena

Bidyut Bhusan Jena


Still no letters!
A silence resides the letterbox - 
the silence that holds a room together
after a dead body is removed,
the silence that inhabits
stones once worshipped,
amid dead leaves, under
a film of undisturbed dust,
in the unfinished tonic bottles and pills
that occupy the forbidden corner of a shelf- 
the spider’s home.

Still no letters!

Shall I replace the cracked walls with
doors and windows, and 
fix thresholds to wait on?
Shall I open the secret chambers?
But the keys are not with me;
and what strange locks are these!
Where are you - 
the keeper of my keys?
Where have you vanished 
with the bunch of keys?
See, since how long have I been
waiting with these rusted locks and
a locked chamber of a heart?
Return, for once at least,
just to return those keys!
Old keys are they
for these old locks!

Still no letters!

at her tea stall
under the old banyan tree
at the end of the village,
was lost in her elsewhere!
Her tear-squeezed eyes
were sunk in their own void.
He died four days ago!
That day, he was yet to brush his teeth,

yet to apply mustard oil on his hair,
yet to go to the village pond to bathe,
and yet to drink his morning tea.
But they were in a hurry to
take him
away to the village cremation ground.
She didn't cry; she didn't object.
What a strange block of bone, flesh
and skin that was!
But his smell was in the pillow,
in the bed sheet, in the house,
and in her!
They took him away
leaving her behind.

People say that he burnt well.
In no time his newly dyed hair
and moustache melted in the fire;
melted too his skin, his moles and
the scar on his right eyebrow.
But they had to smash
his skull with a staff.
The mad vagrant, Ramu,
was also there at the cremation

with his emaciated dog!
The sound of the kerosene stove
brought her back to her stall.
Today, the customers
appeared irritated with her, for
the tea was watery and sugarless.
In no time everyone left her

to her tea stall, kerosene stove,
glass tumblers and flies.

Through the chinks,
where the uneven planks of wood hesitantly met,
she was lost in the sun-soaked empty road,
on which, some twenty years ago,
he had brought her to his house!

Like dust
those memories settle on me,
bridging wrinkles,
absorbing waters 
around my eyes,
unheard, unnoticed
they settle on me.
I do not disturb them;
I let them be.

One day they will bury me!
Do you remember,
how years ago,
on a deviant afternoon,
you and I had worn the rain for a while?
An unplanned walk it was
through an intensely brief rain!
We walked and walked
till the Krishnachura and beyond,
with the rain between us,
and the words
Intertwined, inchoate!



Charanjeet Kaur: Editorial

Sara Aboobacker in Conversation with Ayshath S R

Srinivas Reddy: Sanskrit at the Opera

Literary Articles
Kinshuk Majumdar: Amitav Ghosh
Kusumita Datta: Kashmir and its Story Tellers
Rachel Bari: South Asian Poetry
Sonal Jha: Arun Kolatkar

Book Reviews
Dustin Pickering – ‘No Waiting Like Departure’
Gagan Bihari Purohit – ‘For You to Decide’
Purabi Bhattacharya – ‘Himalaya: Adventures, Meditations, Life’
Revathi Raj Iyer – ‘I won’t give you a leg up, Mr Death’
Sapna Dogra – ‘An Ode to Shimla’
Subashish Bhattacharjee – ‘Agniputr: When Agni First Spoke’
U Atreya Sarma – ‘Wakes on the Horizon’

Ambika Ananth – Editorial Note
Arnab Mukhopadhyay
Bidyut Bhusan Jena
Madhab Chandra Jena
Maithreyi Karnoor
Mithlesh Kumar Chaudhary
Robert Beveridge
Sujit Mukherjee
Surbhi Goel
TS Hidalgo
Varun Rajaram

U Atreya Sarma – Editorial Musings
Akshat Joshi – ‘New World’
Ananya Sarkar – ‘The Cats’
Eva Bell – ‘Entrapped’
Humera Ahmed – ‘A Different Sky’
Neera Kashyap – ‘As quiet as a feather falling’
Reema Tripathy – ‘Is Love the Reason?’
Sahar Raza – ‘Sacrifice’
Sukla Singha – ‘Fury’
Sunil Sharma – ‘The Shrinking Man’

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